Back in 2016, we wrote about our company benefits for the first time. With being honest as one of our fundamental company values and the impact of employee benefits on happiness, we don’t see a reason in keeping them secretive. Here is a detailed and updated look at the compensation and bonuses we provide to our heroes in 2019. Happy new year, everyone!
We are a remote company based in Belgium. While most people work as employees in Belgium, we also have colleagues working in Canada, Brasil, Argentina, Croatia, Poland, Portugal, and France. The reason our remote colleagues work as full-time madewithlove freelancers is that a global office comes with interesting (legal) challenges and barriers. We try to bridge the gap between the two employment structures and iron out as many differences as possible since we believe it is essential to offer every single one of us commensurate benefits. With our current package, we think we found the right balance in the total compensation we can offer, no matter where our colleagues live.
The war on talent is mighty hard in Belgium. Finding quality developers is hard in a country where everyone lives spitting distance from each other, let alone retaining them while competing with the big firms overseas and the persistence of pesky recruiters. Each (smart) city, university, big apartment block, successful scale up and ‘frietkot’, all of it, is just a football’s toss away. Making it even harder for tech-firms to snatch good people. Yet, we shouldn’t be complaining about the number of exceptional employees that find their way to our job openings page. It was only a logical next step in our ever-changing business model to help our clients with hiring skilled people.
In my opinion, a substantial reason we have never needed recruiters, and even have trouble going through all of our applicants, is simple: we’ve built an attractive place to work. We are human. Taking care of every single one of us, putting the people first is — and always will be — our primary focus. It’s not all ‘bout the money, dun-dun-do-do-do-dumb.
The madewithlove managers used to be developers themselves. They know how developers think, feel, and breathe. At madewithlove, we know how teams like to work rather than letting the client, market or other external factors steer our decision making. It’s the result of a conscious effort by the management so that every decision nudges them towards creating a company where they want to work themselves.
Let’s not talk about pizza parties, holiday dinners, and after work drinks. While there is nothing wrong with those and they do take place here, they don’t reflect our remote mindset very well, so we see absolutely no need in classifying these as company perks. We hold other aces. Let’s focus on what is truly motivating — those benefits that install trust, autonomy, and purpose.
Everyone gets to choose their own hours, even in other time zones. It’s up to our colleagues to work effectively with each other, so this naturally results in an overlap. That said, we always keep an eye on how long we work to encourage enough rest and a maximum of 38 work hours per week. This is why we never close deals with 24/7 support commitment, for example.
Even though madewithlove is based in Belgium, we don’t really care where our developers work. Our people are responsible to make sure they communicate with each other as needed and attend the two fixed team meetings we have each week. On the other hand, we don’t want people to work obligatory night shifts or have to wake up at 3 in the morning to stay connected. As a result, we expect our employees to live and work in the range of time zone UTC-05:00 to UTC+03:00.
Want to work in Helsinki for a few days or visit your aunt in Morocco but there aren’t enough holidays left? Just let us know timely, make sure you have a stable internet connection, and you are good to go.
Each year we fly everyone to a secret location to meet in real life and have some fun together. We’ve been to Spain, where we rented a villa with swimming pool close to Barcelona. We’ve explored the ancient city of Zadar, Croatia where many of us went skydiving, and we went surfing in Morocco. In 2018, we stayed in a fancy boutique resort in Greece to enjoy togetherness, quality food, and the (sometimes too strong) Mediterranean breeze. We have organised workshops, hackathons, and company discussions and expect each of our colleagues to present for 15 minutes about a technical (or not) subject they are interested in.
We have the standard Belgian amount of 20 days off and 10 public holidays. We add another 6 paid workdays off by shutting the company down between Christmas and New Year. Our freelancers get these as well, but they are of course free to trade in the Belgian public holidays for their own country’s holidays. In general, we think nobody should feel guilty for taking time off when they desire, as long as it’s announced beforehand.
Our developers are highly motivated, leaving work behind for some well-deserved rest is not always easy for them. So while we do track everyone’s time off, it’s usually to make sure they do take a minimum of rest. If someone wants a longer (unpaid) holiday or take some days extra, that’s also fine. And of course, any medical or family-issue related days don’t count towards the total.
We regularly invite colleagues from abroad to Belgium, where they can rely on a fully furnished upstairs apartment at the Leuven HQ. Belgians can stay here too if they plan a wild night out in Leuven or when they’ve just missed their train back home.
From a legal perspective, our self-employed colleagues provide this themselves, but any hardware our employees need to do their job is on us. Laptops and mobile phones are put at their disposal and they can even keep the noise cancelling headphones they receive. Any work related books will be provided on request and with pleasure!
Everybody can work remote but are also very welcome to work at our HQ in Leuven or coworking space we rent in Ghent, in case you are missing that human contact. All our desks can transform into standing desks and come with one or two 27 inch displays.
We encourage a healthy lifestyle in any way we can. On Mondays, most Belgians come to our Leuven office to share lunch and work together. In the afternoon, there’s the option to hit the gym and enjoy an exhausting fitness and power session of our personal trainer, Jasper. Madewithlove gladly pays for the weekly subscription.
When you start working at madewithlove, you get assigned a personal buddy that will show you around our virtual offices in your first weeks and is your go-to person for all your questions and support. After 3 months, the buddy will buy you a personalised welcome gift. Newcomers have already been sent to festivals, fancy dinners, and car fairs. New people also receive a madewithlove sweater and t-shirt to rock their wardrobe.
In Belgium, company cars are a popular benefit due to tax legislation. Giving everyone a car instead of the same benefit in cash could be better for the company financially, but we’ve deliberately chosen to not be part of a system that has already caused too much environmental damage.
To easily get to work, we made sure our offices in Ghent and Leuven are very close to main train stations. In case someone really does need a company car, they will have to choose an electric one. We are very pleased to see that most of our colleagues don’t need or ask for a company car. The vast majority of our heroes chooses biking or public transport and we are more than happy to help them with that. On top of that, you get an extra compensation for the distance of your bike commute!
Madewithlove developers attend conferences all around the world. We encourage this by paying for admissions, hotels, and flights within a certain yearly budget. Raising the budget to attend an extra conference is okay given the colleague is a speaker there.
Next to the retreat, this is one of our most fun benefits. Every Friday afternoon we put client work aside to pursue our own projects or personal development. Some employees have mini-startups they work on, read blogs and books, create development tools, or learn about new technologies. If they want to experiment with a Fitbit, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, or remote control helicopters, that’s fine, madewithlove will help you out! Take a look at Reflect, Invox, or Changehub, some products that have garnered full company support after starting as a friyay project.
We believe in happy people and smiley faces. A happy working environment is probably the biggest benefit of all madewithlove has to offer. We spend more time on people and culture than strategy and processes. Here are a few examples that improve our company culture. These are not necessarily practical benefits, but we want to share them anyway.
After a certain stage in our hiring process, new candidates for technical positions are given a technical assignment to complete. Once submitted and anonymised to avoid any bias (this is automated) we ask our developers to review and discuss the solution. With this input of 2 or 3 of our own developers we make sure any new colleagues will be a fit. Even if a candidate isn’t hired, we will give feedback on their code.
We want to be transparent about our benefits. Without shifting management responsibilities, we encourage everyone in the company to make suggestions on how we can make sure madewithlove stays the best employer for them. Suggestions can be about the benefits listed above, but may as well be about how we organise project management, about the process of hiring people or our company values and long-term strategies. The goal is to have fair policies which anyone that works at madewithlove can be proud of.
A great tool to start the conversation is “Know Your Team“, a Basecamp spin-off. The input we receive there sparks discussions that are continued on our internal forum or result on a blog post on our internal blog.
Given people centred values it’s only natural that we encourage the exchange of constructive feedback between our people, after all, good feedback is the best way to grow as a person. We’ve even built our own peer-to-peer feedback tool to do so. You can coach you colleagues, congratulate them on a job well done or make sure you get an answer to a specific question about your own performance. Apart from this, we also organise check-ins and reviews with the management and HR team.
Feel like working for madewithlove? We are always looking for interesting profiles and will gladly open up our agendas to meet you. You can find our job openings here. If you have any suggestions on how we can improve our employer benefits, feel free to share. We are happy to learn and we thank you for reading.